Aspiration News

Africa Source II

Newsforge interviewed Allen Gunn for a news piece about Africa Source II.

Rod Amis writes: "The Africa Source II (AS II) conference, an eight-day hands-on workshop aimed at building the technical skills of those working with and within non-governmental organizations (NGO) on the continent, was held in Kalangala, Uganda, last month."

Innovation Funders Network Summit

Event Date(s): 
January 30, 2006 to January 31, 2006

The Innovation Funders Network 2006 Summit took place in San Francisco on January 30th & 31st. Aspiration was honored and delighted to direct the agenda and oversee event facilitation.

The event convened funders, invited affiliate organizations and thought leaders from around the world at Wharton West in San Francisco to explore the role of innovation and networks in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Over 100 participants, coming from a range of perspectives and experiences, discussed challenges and opportunities across the fast-changing landscape of innovation funding.

Over the past decade, the emergence of the internet, cellular phones and other innovations in Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) has brought about profound social and economic change. We are now living in a networked society. These networks provide new ways to collaborate, express ourselves politically and culturally, address social and economic issues, and build local and global communities. The event addressed a range of topics, including:

  • the use of ICTs in recent humanitarian relief efforts, online advocacy, community Internet, telecentres and community technology centers.
  • innovative uses of networks to deliver social and humanitarian services, advocate policy positions, communicate with constituents and the media, build collaborations and raise funds.
  • How do we ensure access? How do we equitably distribute benefits enabled by these networks? How do we foster innovation communities within the social sectors? How do we scale these innovations across issue areas and geographic regions?
  • different funding models including traditional and corporate philanthropy, social venture, peer to peer investing, online fundraising, microfinance. We will explore the use of these networks to foster collaboration amongst funders.

See the Innovation Funders Network site for complete details.

Africa Source II

Event Date(s): 
January 8, 2006 to January 15, 2006

Aspiration managed the facilitation of Africa Source II, an eight-day hands-on workshop aimed at building the technical skills of those working with and within NGOs on the African continent. The event took place on Kalangala Island on Victoria Lake, working with our favorite collaborators and event organizers, Tactical Technology Collective, and in partnership with local organizations including Wougnet and Linux Solutions.

Aspiration Executive Director Allen Gunn was interviewed about Africa Source II by Tectonic and News Forge. Photos from the event can be viewed with the Flickr tag africasource2.

Africa Source II focused on how technology, in particular Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) can be integrated into the project work of NGO’s. Over a hundred thirty NGO Support Professionals and NGO Staff working at the local level across the region were present at this meeting. Together with a handful of field leaders from Africa, Europe, North America and Asia, they explored how technology can best serve the non-profit sector in Africa both in terms of access and content. Proceedings from the event can be found on the event wiki.

Telecentre.org Leaders Forum at WSIS

Event Date(s): 
November 15, 2005 to November 18, 2005

The Telecentre Leaders Forum (see video) brought together those working in telecentres, running telecentre networks, and doing telecentre research, and provided a venue for people from across the globe with a passion for grassroots technology to connect, share stories and swap practical ideas. Aspiration led facilitation across four days of collaborative workshops, following an agenda co-designed with Telecentre.org and their partner network.

Aspiration and Penguin Days in LXer Linux News

Don Parris, the 'evangelist' of Open Source in the faith community and an editor/writer for LXer, has written a brief compendium of organizations advocating for, promoting, and supporting Open Source Software in the nonprofit sector.  Aspiration and Penguin Days are featured.  Read more here.

Idealware Donation Tools Review

Our friend and colleague Laura Quinn at Idealware reviewed twenty-seven lower-priced online software tools that accept donations from an existing website. She found that many affordable tools are also powerful, friendly, and flexible. She offers in the report recommendations for high-quality tools, as well as a method to choose the right tool for you.  View the report 

Great work, Laura!

Web Surveys and Section 508 accessibility

After launching our first-ever NGO software survey we heard from a number of people who rightly noted that the survey as it is currently hosted on survey monkey is not accessible for web users with disabilities and assistive technologies (sometimes referred to as compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act - see also http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php and http://www.section508.gov/ for more information.) 

After some research we found that there is indeed a scarcity of inexpensive, hosted survey solutions available that are fully accessible for people with disabilities.   

Penguin Day San Antonio

Event Date(s): 
November 5, 2005

For this event Aspiration went to Texas to partner with SalsaNet, Ployglot Consulting, and Urban 15 in facilitating discussion on the most inexpensive, flexible technologies to support Texas Nonprofits efforts, how Open Source solutions can be more secure, how to get support for Open Source solutions, and how to find the best Open Source applications.

Open Source in London: Social Source 2005

Our friends in London are hosting the second London Social Source event, in affiliation with the global Penguin Day movement.

Adrian from LASA writes:

Social Source UK 05 is for those interested in the potential of free & open source software and methods for the voluntary and non-profit sector.

Programme for SocialSource 2005:

  • introductions for those who have had no hands-on contact with Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS)
  • case studies
  • details of projects going on within the sector using F/OSS tools.
  • demonstrations of Open Source software in action
  • opportunities for discussion.

All are welcome to attend, whether new to Open Source or already involved in projects, with key stakeholders envisaged as those:

California Community Wireless Summit

Event Date(s): 
October 28, 2005 to October 29, 2005

Aspiration designed the agenda and facilitated this event, where participants explored strategies for community participation in municipal projects and creating community demand for wireless services through education and outreach. The Summit brought together representatives from community based organizations, activists, community technology and wireless experts, community Internet policy advocates, and local policymakers.Our objective is to build a statewide network of advocates working to bring Internet access and resources to all Californians.

Penguin Days in Texas: Open Source for Nonprofits Goes South

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jon Lebkowsky
Polycot Consulting, L.L.C.
512 762-6547 or 512 482-0715
jonl@polycot.com
www.polycot.com

Contact:
Aspiration: Better Tools for a Better World
info@aspirationtech.org
www.aspirationtech.org

Austin, Texas, October 14, 2005 Software developers, activists and nonprofits gather at Penguin Days (www.penguinday.org) in Austin and San Antonio to demystify open source software for social change.

Penguin Days explore open source software for nonprofits and help socially-minded 'geeks' find ways to support public interest organizations.

Free Software Foundation announces Award for Social Benefit Software

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announces the creation of a new annual award and is calling for nominations: 

<p> &quot;Free Software Award for Projects of Social Benefit&quot; </p>

Tools for Community: Mobile Phones, Speakeasy, Networks, and more..

Another story from MobileActive: Emily Gertz, our friend at WorldChanging and our prolific MobileActive blogger, profiles Tad Hirsch of txtmob fame and his Speakeasy project in Chinatown in Boston.  Using voice over IP telephony and mobile phones, Speakeasy is a "a software-enabled telephone call center staffed by multilingual community volunteers. Newcomers to Chinatown who are not fluent in English can call the service and connect with someone from the neighborhood who can provide immediate language interpretation, answer questions, and offer advice."

Cell Phones for Campaigns -- Stories from MobileActive

MobileActive is over but the work has just begun...Stories about the convergence and the use of cell phones and texting in avocacy and civic campaigns are coming in fast after the first-ever MobileActive.  The event brought together a group of activists from around the globe to explore the use of cell phones for social justice and citizen participation campaigns.

Patrick Burnett, a participant from Fahamu, puts it well: "In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) SMS is being used to monitor child rights violations.

Greenpeace Argentina campaign against forest destruction In Argentina indigenous communities are using SMS to halt the bulldozers that destroy their forest livelihoods.  And in the Philippines, angry activists have used SMS to hold government to account. The power of cellular technology is no longer up for debate; what remains to be discussed is how to maximize it for social good. Mobile Active Convergence, held recently in Canada, did just this... What came out of the three-day event...went far beyond this expectation, as a diverse group of people from around the world banged their heads together, mixed their ideas and thrashed out a vision for just how far cellular technology can go in creating a better world. The end result was new ideas, the formation of a lasting network and the production of a body of knowledge available to many beyond the confines of the conference."

Donation Tool Survey

Our colleague Laura Quinn over at the newly-created Idealware is conducting a survey about nonprofit experiences with online donation tools. The survey is at http://tinyurl.com/9tt74

Idealware (www.idealware.org) is conducting this survey to understand how online donation tools are working for people in the real world.  The survey results will be incorporated into an in-depth review of online donation tools that will be available for free towards the end of October.

MobileActive Convergence

Event Date(s): 
September 22, 2005 to September 24, 2005

Aspiration and Green Media Toolshed convened a working session of global activists, communications staff, technology experts, and foundation staff to mine a wide variety of experience, expertise and vision. The goal of the MobileActive was to explore the power of the cell phone as an organizing and campaign communication tool with leading activists from all over the world; to share knowledge, stories, and strategies; and accelerate the use of cell phones as a successful tool in campaigns, human rights efforts and field organizing. Activists from across the world including Africa, South Korea, the Philippines, India, the Ukraine, and the Americas participated in the first-of-its-kind event.

First-ever MobileActive Convergence a huge success

MobileActive is over and all of the fabulous participants have gone home.  Together with Green Media Toolshed and Marty's great vision, we brought activists from around the globe together.  All are using mobile phones in their campaigns in new and innovative ways -- in the Congo, Philippines, Argentina, US, South Africa, and the UK, among other places. 

Here are a few excerpts and stories from people who attended: 

MobileActive Conference gets underway - I just arrived about an hour ago in Toronto for the MobileActive conference....From what I have heard, it is going to be a cool crowd from all around the world. For example, I took a cab from the airport to the hotel with Bukeni, a documentary film maker from Congo who was just in New York presenting his films on child soldiers. [Aspiration Aggregation]

Ungana-Afrika is the 2005 Dirk Award Winner!

We here at Aspiration and all of the previous recipients of the Dirk Award are happy to announce the 2005 winner of the award:  Ungana-Afrika.  Here is the official announcement. Congratulations!

Dirk AwardThe Dirk Award Committee is honored to announce Ungana-Afrika as this year's winner of the Dirk Award.

The Dirk Award is given annually to those circuit or eRiders who have shown extraordinary contributions to the nonprofit and international NGO technology communities while paying tribute to the principles of social justice and the role technology can play in empowering other
communities and individuals.

Ungana-Afrika provides innovative technology support to NGOs in Southern Africa. Ungana-Afrika believes that information and communication technologies (ICTs) offer new opportunities for African community-based and development organizations to do what they do better.

With its emphasis on technology, social justice, and community empowerment, the small staff of Ungana-Afrika has taken the principles of eRiding to innovative new levels with its trainings and capacity-building workshops and innovative projects such as those focusing on community radio and free and open source software within an African context.

Ungana-Afrika further works tirelessly to assure that the eRiding model takes hold in the Southern Africa region by working with other organizations in the region on developing their own eRiding projects. It makes its learnings and materials widely available under Creative Commons license and its staff are active community participants in the
international eRider Network. The organisation is supported by the Soros Foundations Network and the Government of Finland.

eRiders are one of the largest global resources of ICT capacity building for development organizations and work in a world-wide movement with growing representation in more than 20 countries.

The Committee of previous Dirk Award recipients and the global eRider and nonprofit technology support community congratulate Ungana-Afrika and its staff Toni Eliasz, Ryan Jacobs, Angel Kgokolo, Tshepo Thlaku, and Rudi von Staden for visionary and exemplary work!

For more information about Ungana-Afrika, please visit
www.ungana-afrika.org. More information about the Dirk Award for eRiders is at www.dirkaward.org.

 

MobileActive: Cell Phones for Civic Engagement

PRESS ADVISORY 

CONTACT: Katrin Verclas, Aspiration
413-687-9877 or 413-884-0094
katrin [at] aspirationtech.org

Activists from Around the World Gather for First-Ever “MobileActive” on Use of Mobile Phones in Human Rights,Emergency Relief, and Democracy Campaigns

Washington, DC, September 6, 2005 – Ring, ring …Social Change is Calling: Green Media Toolshed and Aspiration, two US-based nonprofit organizations, are convening technologists and activists using mobile phones and text messaging for advocacy, human rights work, democracy campaigns, and mass mobilizations.

MobileActive: Cellphones for Civic Engagement will take place in Toronto, Canada on September 22-24, 2005.

“Call me on my cell phone -- Send me a text message -- You can get me on my cell when you need me. These are not just words among friends anymore.  Now that power is being used by activist working for mass mobilizations, human rights campaigns, environmental protection, and democratic elections,” says Katrin Verclas of Aspiration: Better Tools for a Better World.    

Marty Kearns, one of the organizers, says: "Email is dead. The cell phone is the real tool for moving voice and connecting on the go.  In a world on the move, we need to connect the voice of the people to civil society campaigns. The voices of the world are on mobile devices and the leaders of social change need to be there to engage and mobilize.”

MobileActive.org and the MobileActive strategy meeting bring together campaigners, technology experts and communications strategists to reconnect campaigns, issue work and civic engagement to people on the street.  MobileActive will help speed the dissemination of innovative practices and technology by skill and knowledge-sharing among activists. Attendees will explore strategies and tactics for the use of cell phones as an organizing tool, and develop useable guidance for practitioners, donors and campaigners to be disseminated widely. The overarching goal is to help civil society activists capitalize on the global wireless phone infrastructure for advocacy communications and organizing.  

Activists and technologists from the Philippines, England, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and the Congo representing Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Fahamu,  Working Assets,  txtpower.org, WorldChanging.org, the Open Society Institute, MacArthur Foundation, MIT Media Labs, EchoDitto, Association de Defense des Droits des Prisonniers, Txtmob, Mobile Voter, Movement Strategy Center, Surdna Foundation, Mobile Reporter, 160Characters, ACORN, and many others will attend.

Strategists and activists interested in participating, please go to www.mobileactive.org.

About Green Media Toolshed:  Green Media Toolshed is a nonprofit environmental organization that provides communications tools to our members, environmental nonprofits, so that they can more effectively project their messages to the public and decision-makers. We provide tools and membership services to more than 165 environmental groups across the U.S. -- www.greenmediatoolshed.org

About Aspiration:  Aspiration, www.aspirationtech.org, connects nonprofit organizations with software solutions that help them better carry out their work.  We want nonprofit organizations to obtain and use the best software to maximize their effectiveness and impact so that they, in turn, can change the world.  We identify what is available and what is missing in NGO software arena, and foster relationships, delivery systems, and sustainability strategies between NGOs around the world.  

Gave money already? Give an hour of your time right now to the Katrina PeopleFinder Project

David Geilhufe, Jon Lebowsky, Ethan Zuckerman, Donald Lobo, Steven Wright, Kieran Lal and others are coordinating a volunteer effort by open source developers, web designers, online activists and ordinary citizens to create a single database of all the people missing in the aftermath of Katrina that their friends and family can use to connect with them. David writes:

Refugees can search 20 web sites for lost relatives and still miss their entry on the 21st web site. There is a need to combine all the refugee data from big databases like Red Cross, large posting forums like Craigslist and many other sources on the web. The Katrina PeopleFinder Project seeks to create a single repository combining as many sources of refugee data as possible from all over the web without interrupting existing momentum.

We need help for both regular people and software engineers. Everybody is critical to building a central repository of ALL the refugee records we can find on the web. The Social Source Foundation, CivicSpace Labs and Salesforce.com Foundation are coordinating hundreds of people and organizations, including Craigslist and Earthlink.

Please consider giving us just an hour of you your time to do volunteer data entry. The PeopleFinder Project is seeking volunteers in four primary areas:

 

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